Sound Branding is a bastard. I know it is not very PC but ten years after conception it still sits outside the branding family. The Academy of Audio Branding (the official body for ‘sound branders’) does not have the same title as the work of its members.
Cornelius Ringer, Kai Bronner and Rainer Hirt have done an amazing job of getting this subject on the map. The organisation is now in its 5th official year.
It holds an annual conference at a different prestigious University location around the world for the global community to get together and discuss the merits, techniques and results of their work that year.
In the early days we spent many sessions discussing what we all meant, then the purists wanted ‘Audio Branding’ before the pioneers and strategists wanted ‘Sound Branding.’
We felt that ‘audio’ missed an opportunity and wanted a new way of approaching creating music and music strategies for brands to be defined. But the fact we are still talking about this is an indication of the problem. It is no wonder that the potential clients of this service are confused.
On the surface sound branding has the all characteristics of music production. Many composers are all too happy to jump on the sound branding fraternity wagon.
They needed to have something, anything that would differentiate themselves from the thousands of other composers offering a service. They were already doing stings and sound logos, they just hadn’t been calling it sonic branding.
But sound branding is not just about a sonic logo, which of course can be an important component and may be appropriate and useful to a brand.
Sound branding is whole language that provides a rich medium in which to express the unique personality of a brand. Once identified and defined, then composers can use those linguistic semantics to create sound palettes that should dazzle and amaze.
Soundlounge have spent many an hour talking to people about these critical stages of insight, explaining in depth what needs to be done before anyone invests any money going to a studio to write or produce demos, only to be told that we have not been selected because we did not bring any sound ideas to the pitch.
There are many logos and stings out there now creating a fair amount of noise. The litmus test has to be, does it help people identify the brand or is it just a great few notes of music? How many of these logos are really memorable?
It took Intel nearly 10 years before almost everyone on the planet could identify four notes as being their sound logo.
Agencies have been working for decades choosing music from the “I’ll know it when I hear it” school of thinking.
Creative people are insistent that they don’t want any sets of ‘rules’ for their creativity – the fact that they are already working to strict guidelines through a brand’s corporate identity manual seems to elude them.
But in an economic climate that has to work leaner and meaner, why are so many hours are still wasted in editing suites with the key decision makers of the team searching for existing tracks that fit their visuals or commissioning composers to write a new track?
Apart from it being an expensive way to approach the solution it is also stressful with unpredictable outcomes.
So what is the solution? To really understand and apply sound branding, it has to begin with a learning and consultancy period by taking a 360 case history from the different decision makers.
What has the brand done previously? Did it work? Why? What was it about that music or sound that resonated with their consumers?
Is anyone speaking to the consumer to find out what they think? With this kind of information given at the briefing stage, the technicians working to create and produce great differentiating music should demand an in-depth genealogy of the brand sound relatives.
This has to be done in the planning and strategic stages. This investment of a few hours often produces new and extraordinary data and patterns, key insights and guidelines to amplify and clarify future briefing.
The brands endeavour to behave as very good parents to the development of the brand identity. Sound Branding is like discovering that your child has a new talent.
Their role is in staying with the development of their child and not acting like foster parent, temporarily accommodating one logo after another without giving it the sound basis to develop a real personality or heritage.
The end result is a customer that recognises a brand from what they hear because it is related to everything else the consumer knows and understands about that brand.
We would love to hear any opinions on this subject from artists, advertising agencies, record labels, streaming reps and music lovers. Feel free to follow us on Twitter and let us know what you think: @soundlounge